Working in the service industry, any service industry, your job is to keep clients happy. Whether you have hundreds of clients or only a few you work closely with, privacy and security are important. Clients expect it. More importantly, no one is comfortable working with someone who is associated with a data breach. No matter how mundane your services may be.
On the flip-side of this, hackers also tend to target small to medium businesses with a growing number of clients. The information your clients give you about themselves can also be used to hurt them in the wrong hands. Therefore, the best thing you can do is to improve your cybersecurity. Fortunately, there are already several straight-forward ways to do this.
The Key Private Information
In order to keep your customers happy, you need to know what you're protecting. Every purchase a customer makes comes with an exchange of data, exactly what is needed to buy things in their name and with their identity. This is the same information hackers want, and why businesses big and small get targeted and their customer information is what gets hacked.
What hackers want are your customer's full legal names, birthdays, addresses, and phone numbers. As well as the names of their banks, bank account numbers, card numbers, and security codes. If you run physical cards, they might be after a read off of the magnetic strip. So it's all this that you need to protect.
1) Update Your Cybersecurity Suite
The first step is to make sure your cybersecurity suite is up to date. Older businesses and smaller businesses are more likely to have insufficient cybersecurity for the amount of business you're doing. Update your firewall and virus scanning software to the most recent, and the best you can afford.
You may also want to invest in vulnerability detection and scraping your network for any malware that may have already snuck in. Clean up your work spaces and devices of any dangerous apps and consider the latest industry security measures like device tracking, screen locking, and encryption.
2) Never Text or Email Financial Information
Next, accept that third party communication lines can't be trusted. Email, social media, text messages, and chat apps can all potentially have unencrypted communication or themselves be hacked. So keep your customers safe by making sure that they don't send you secure information and that your customer service doesn't send secure information back. These channels are the least secure but you will be held responsible anyway.
If you do need to chat about secure details, make sure you are using a channel that encrypts in-transit that you can prove is secure.
3) Secure Your Business Website
Your business website is another potential in-road for hackers looking to grab information as clients enter it into your online forms. Client-side hacks are the most common, because people are less likely to secure their personal devices and home computers.
The solution is to increase the security of your website. Whether you are using WordPress or a custom designed website from a developer pro, there are ways to increase both universal and client-side security of your website.
4) Encrypt Any Stored Data
Now that you've covered data being communicated and data being entered on your website, it's time to look at how you store data. An unsecured database of client data is just waiting to be the subject of the next sensational data breach news story. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to secure your stored data, starting with your firewall and virus security. And ending with your encryption.
Encryption ensures that even if hackers get into their system, they won't be able to read any of your data. They would need the decryption key, which only your security software will have. At the same time, good data storage software will make it easy for employees on authorized devices to access and work with the data.
5) Upgrade Security Login Policies
Finally, authorization is a big part of client data security for any service industry. The account information of your client might be touched or worked with by any number of employees throughout the day. Security demands that all information be accessed on a need-to-know basis. Marketing professionals, for instance, don't need to know a customer's credit card number or exact address, but may benefit from knowing their birthday.
The key here is well-managed authorized logins. Logins to access any sensitive data should be limited only to task-specific information. And all logins, employee and client-side, should automatically log out after a certain amount of time. This will prevent friends, family, and phone thieves from accessing private information due to auto-login 'helpfulness'.
6) Work With Experts
For every business, data security relies on a combination of best practices and specific implementation. The data you handle, the software you use, and the level of security needed will all influence which data security solutions you choose and how they should be put into place.
An expert IT security team can help you analyze your current network and client interactions to determine the right solutions for your business. Whether you need to upgrade your hardware or install network-wide encryption, data security professionals can help you do what needs to be done without wasting any time on solutions that are less than ideal.
As a service industry, you become responsible for the information and goals of your clients. And for securing that information from misuse. These five simple steps should significantly increase the security of your client information. For more data security tips or a consultation on the ideal data security solutions for your business, contact us today!